Healthier Foods

Healthier Food Choices

Healthier Food Choices

University Hospitals is committed to providing nutritious food that is sustainably produced, including supporting local farms in our agriculturally rich region. Decreasing our purchase of meat products, while providing healthier meat options and increasing plant-based protein, models healthy eating and helps to reduce our dependence on the conventional, fossil fuel intensive meat production industry; providing healthier beverages helps to reduce obesity and chronic illness associated with the consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages; and support for local, sustainably produced foods helps us to provide the freshest, most nutritious food available while also supporting our local economy and minimizing environmental impact due to food miles traveled.

UH established a system-level nutrition committee in 2013 comprised of clinicians, supply chain and operations leaders, and nutrition services professionals to identify and track food and wellness-related goals. This novel multidisciplinary committee provides a promising new opportunity for an integrated and focused approach to improving our food procurement and menu planning practices to optimize the quality, healthfulness and sustainability of our food offerings.

Each UH medical center has signed the national Healthy Food in Health Care Pledge. As a system, we have prioritized the following sustainable food procurement goals which also align with the HHI Healthier Food Challenge:

Local and Sustainable Food Purchasing: increase our total local and sustainable food purchasing by 20 percent annually over our 2013 baseline, with an emphasis on local purchasing, where “local” is defined as items grown within 250 miles of UH.

The Balanced Menus Challenge: reduce meat purchases over 3 years by 20 percent relative to 2013 baseline while investing in more sustainably sourced meat products.

Healthy Beverages: increase purchases of healthy beverages by 20 percent annually compared to 2013 baseline and encourage tap over bottled water. “Healthy” beverages are stringently defined as water (including seltzer and unsweetened [e.g., fruit infused] flavored); 100 percent fruit or vegetable juice; milk and nondairy milk alternatives (unsweetened); teas and coffee (unsweetened with no added caffeine).

In 2013 we developed a customized web-based module for internal tracking of our food purchases, and we are currently capturing procurement data from our largest food vendors in accordance with our goals.

Proportion of Dollars Spent on Sustainable and Local Foods

Proportion of Dollars Spent on Total Beverages

Proportion of Dollars Spent on Healthy Beverages

15 Environmental Excellence awards

UH received 15 Environmental Excellence awards from Practice Greenhealth, including the prestigious System for Change award, for our systemwide achievements in sustainability in 2013.